We’ve got issues

We’ve got plenty of issues here at Wild Things, but we’re pretty sure they’re the kind you’ll be interested in. Here’s a selection of YA titles that deal with all kinds of social issues or challenging experiences, from suicide and grief to bullying and sexual abuse.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie ($19.99)

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Arnold Spirit Jr. is a 14-year-old aspiring cartoonist, and he’s also the only Native American student at his all-white high school in a small town in Washington state. This insightful and funny book tackles all kinds of hard-hitting issues, including alcohol, bullying, sex and racism.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous ($12.99)

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Originally published as nonfiction in 1971, this famous and controversial book takes the form of a diary written by a troubled teen who becomes addicted to drugs. It might be over 40 years old now, but this tale of a confused and lonely girl losing control of her life still packs a punch.

Zac & Mia by AJ Betts ($19.99)

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Seventeen-year-old Zac is in hospital enduring another grueling treatment session for his leukemia when he meets Mia, an angry and troubled cancer patient in the room next door. The two become friends and help each other navigate the difficulties of life with a terminal illness.

Paperweight by Meg Haston ($16.95)

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Steve’s eating disorder has landed her in a treatment centre on the outskirts of the New Mexico desert, where her mealtimes are closely monitored and she can’t even visit the bathroom without supervision. But slowly, Stevie learns to confront her trauma and accept her grief.

The Pause by John Larkin ($19.99)

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From the outside, Declan’s life looks perfect: a loving family, great friends and a beautiful girlfriend. But Declan’s got a secret – and as troubling events from past continue to eat away at him, he decides that the only solution is to end it all. Can he go through with it?

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson ($17.95)

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Seventeen-year-old Lennie is a bookworm and band geek who happily lets her fiesty sister Bailey take centre stage. When Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie’s not only forced to deal with her shock and grief, but caught between two boys – and one of them was Bailey’s boyfriend.

Bad Behaviour by Rebecca Starford ($29.99)

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This riveting memoir of bullying and boarding school reads just like a novel. When Rebecca Starford spent her 14th year living and studying on a remote campus in the Australian bush, she finds herself first joining ranks with the school bullies, and then becoming the object of their cruelty and scorn.

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney ($19.99)

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A year ago, fifteen-year-old Tom lost her parents and sister in a devastating flood that swept through her hometown; now, she’s pregnant to a much older man, and finds herself talking to fish in an attempt to overcome her feelings of loss. A moving and whimsical coming-of-age story of grief and hope.

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What’s new at Wild Things

Every week is an exciting week at Wild Things, and this last one has been no exception. New releases are flowing in like a river of pure papery delight, and we’ve got some fantastic events lined up during July and August – don’t forget the launch of Chris McKimmie’s Laura of Newtown this Sunday 26 July, and our very first Wonder Club on Friday 7 August.

Check out these stellar new titles that have hit shelves over the last few days:

Parachute by Danny Parker & Matt Ottley ($14.95, ages 3+)

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Toby always wears a parachute, because it keeps him safe. But one day, he has to go on a very important rescue mission – and when he’s left without his parachute, he’ll have to learn to stay calm and be brave …

This is a Ball by Beck & Matt Stanton ($19.99, ages 4+)

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Everything this book tells you is totally wrong. But that’s OK – because kids love to be right all the time, so when you read them this book, they’ll get to correct you again and again and again and they’ll love it.

The Girl Who Walked on Air by Emma Carroll ($13.99, ages 9+)

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The sensational story of the showstopping Louie Reynolds, tightrope walker extraordinaire whose road to fame and fortune is full of excitement, terror, mystery and death-defying stunts.

The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney ($16.99, ages 12+)

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When a terrible crime leaves Jacob O’Leary’s small town in shock, Jacob’s convinced that fingers are being pointed at the wrong guy. He’s determined to prove it – and in the process, he’ll discover just what he’s capable of.

Roald Dahl Activity Notebook (($19.95)

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Dahl fanatics and aspiring young authors will love this creative activity notebook, which is packed full of stickers and illustrated pages for them to pen their own wacky and whimsical masterpieces.

And here are this week’s top 10 bestsellers:

1. Wonder by RJ Palacio

2. Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester

3. In My Heart by Jo Witek

4. Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris by Kate Knapp

5. Long Haul: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

6. In The Family Hour (Mini Edition) by Tai Snaith

7. A Week Without Tuesday by Angelica Banks

8. My Pop is a Pirate by Peter Carnavas & Damon Young

9. Animalium by Katie Bloom

10. The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

Wild new YA picks

We’ve had some ripping contemporary YA yarns hit the shelves at Wild Things recently, so we’ve rounded up our picks of the week for you (warning: this post might make your Must Read list spiral out of control). From a creepy murder mystery set in 1980s Portland to a thoughtful tale of friendship and first love in the Australian outback, these books travel the globe with tales of romance, adventure, mystery and heartbreak:

The Rise and Fall of the Gallivants by MJ Beaufrand ($19.99)

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It’s 1983, and in Portland, Oregon, the punk scene is thriving – and the girls are disappearing. Noah, a young punk from the suburbs, is sure that whatever’s going on has something to do with the creepy owners of PfefferBrau Haus, a local brewery. When Noah gets his band, the Gallivanters, back together for a battle of the bands at PfefferBrau Haus, bizarre secrets start to be revealed. A compelling and imaginative mystery with a palpable sense of time and place.

Risk by Fleur Ferris ($19.99)

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This tense and gripping thriller explores a terrifyingly plausible scenario involving internet predators and love gone wrong. Taylor and Sierra have always been best friends, but Taylor’s getting sick of beautiful Sierra always getting the guy – especially when that guy is Jacob Jones, a gorgeous surfer the girls meet online. When Sierra goes missing after arranging to meet Jacob in person, Taylor’s forced to consider some dark possibilities – is Jacob who he says he is? And what’s happened to Sierra?

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle ($19.99)

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Seventeen-year-old Cara can’t remember a time before the accident season. Each October, everyone in her family becomes strangely accident-prone – but even as they lock away sharp implements and switch off electrical appliances, the injuries follow them like a curse. But this year, Cara is starting to ask questions – and what she discovers is stranger than she could ever have imagined. A mesmerising, magical and haunting debut.

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher ($19.99)

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Ana and Zak are all wrong for each other – Ana’s your classic type A personality, Zak’s your typical slacker. But when Ana’s brother ditches their high school trip to visit a science fiction convention, Ana’s forced to enlist Zac’s help – and in the midst of the convention’s cosplay craziness, the two find out that they’ve actually got more in common than they thought. A madcap comedy romance with a big heart.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas ($19.99)

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Imagine never meeting your best friend. This is what it’s like for Ollie and Moritz, the two protagonists of this moving and inventive novel – Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz has a pacemaker, so coming face-to-face would risk both their lives. The two boys write letters instead, sharing their thoughts and experiences and helping each other make sense of the world. But when Moritz reveals a secret, their friendship faces an incredible challenge.

Frankie and Joely by Nova Weetman ($19.95)

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It’s the sweltering height of Australian summer, and best friends Frankie and Joely are off to the country for a week to stay with Joely’s relatives. But when Joely introduces Frankie to her cousins, Thommo and Mack, long-hidden tensions and rivalries begin to simmer, and the girls’ friendship is tested in new and confusing ways. A beautifully observed and bittersweet tale of growing up.

We are family

We’re just one big family here at Wild Things, and we don’t want anyone to feel left out – so with that in mind, the lovely Fiona has compiled this cracking list of great titles that teach little readers all about the many-coloured rainbow of modern family living …

Families come in all different shapes, sizes and configurations, so books on family and cultural diversity are an important and useful part of any home or school library. They don’t just affirm a child’s own experience, but show them all the different ways people can share their lives together. It’s a wonderful gift for each child to know that their individual understanding of home and family is both valid and valuable; an even richer gift is the insight these books offer into how other people live.

Picture books are a non-threatening, engaging way for kids to take a peek into someone else’s home or walk in another person’s shoes for a few colourful pages. Since we’re still at a stage where we need to spell out the different ways people live, the first two books on this list have pretty explicit aims:

Just the Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington and Claire Robertson ($24.99)

This picture book celebrates every kind of family you can imagine. Anna’s family is comprised of her mum, dad and grandpa, while Kiara has two dads and Henry’s parents are separated; various other families are also lovingly depicted. This book clearly illustrates diversity and affirms kids’ different experiences. And as Izzy says, ‘You see, all families aren’t the same and I think mine might be perfect … JUST THE WAY WE ARE’.

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Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, with illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown ($24.95)

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Stella has a dilemma. Her school is having a Mother’s Day celebration – so what’s a girl with two dads to do?! This book artfully shows how Stella’s family is different and reveals that a lot of the other kids at her preschool have different families, too – there are also gentle depiction of families from non-English backgrounds as well.

But my favourite kinds of picture books are those that aren’t so explicit when it comes to tackling issues …

Teddy Took the Train by Nicki Greenberg ($19.99)

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In this gorgeous story by Melbourne’s wonderfully talented Nicki Greenberg, a little girl called Dot goes on an adventure to the market with her mum and then catches the train home. But she accidently leaves poor Teddy on the train. Dot is grief-stricken, but her mum talks her through a possible alternative scenario. Maybe Teddy has gone to a Teddy bears’ picnic?

What makes this book particularly moving is that Dot’s mum is depicted as being in a wheelchair, but this isn’t mentioned in the narrative once! She just is, and this detail makes Nicki’s story subtle and all the more powerful.

A House of Her Own by Jenny Hughes and Jonathan Bentley ($24.95)

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Audrey is bigger than she was yesterday, so she really does need her own house. It’s up to Dad to help her build one, and the tree in the backyard seems just perfect.

This is a gently funny story about a little’s girl desire for independence coupled with her need for security. What I also like about it is that the story features just the girl and her dad. It could be that her parents are separated or her mum is at work or just out for the day; it’s a lovely affirmation of a child’s relationship with her father.

But I wouldn’t want you to think that any of the above books are too worthy or educational! They can be enjoyed for their gorgeous artwork, vivid characters and rhythmic language, and they’re all perfect for reading aloud and sharing with the littlest members of your family.

Go wild for NAIDOC Week!

We’re getting into the spirit of NAIDOC Week at Wild Things with some fantastic books for young readers! Engage little hearts and minds with these unique and important stories of Indigenous Australia – we think they all embody this year’s NAIDOC theme, which is We all stand on sacred ground: learn, respect and celebrate.

Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft (ages 3+, $14.95)

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This bright and beautiful picture book is a glorious celebration of country from one of our most talented illustrators and artists. Bronwyn Bancroft takes readers on a mesmerising adventure, from rainforests and gorges to suburban homes and cityscapes. Bancroft is a descendant of the Bundjalung people of NSW, and has a deep affinity for the Australian landscape that’s sure to captivate kids.

The Eagle Inside by Jack Manning Bancroft (ages 5+, 24.95)

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Jimmy is a honeyeater whose just started flying school – and on his first day, he’s disappointed to realise that he’s the smallest bird there. He’s convinced he’ll never fit in – until he meets Eagle, who shows Jimmy that what makes you different can be a great strength. Those Bancrofts are a talented bunch – Jack is the founder and CEO of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), and his book is vividly illustrated by his mother, Bronwyn.

The Lost Girl by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Leanne Tobin (ages 5+, 24.95)

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A young girl gets lost in the outback when she wanders far from the Mothers, Aunties and Grandmothers and the Fathers, Uncles and Grandfathers. But Mother Nature comes to the rescue and helps her find her way back home. This is a stunning book from an award-winning duo (Ambelin Kwanemullina is a writer and artist from the Palyku people; Leanne Tobin is a Darug artist and playwright) and an empowering tale for young Indigenous girls.

My Lost Mob by Venetia Tyson (ages 5+, $12.95)

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A cute and captivating tale about an emu who loses his mob, and the first book by Venetia Tyson, a Quandamooka woman from the North Stradbroke Island area. Follow a plucky emu as he travels across the Australian landscape, encountering all kinds of wildlife and asking everyone he meets – a turtle, a cassowary, a kangaroo, a lizard – if they’ve seen his mob, until eventually … well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Stories for Simon by Lisa Miranda Sarzin & Lauren Briggs (ages 5+, $24.99)

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Meet Simon, a boy who unwraps a boomerang wrapped in newspaper and learns all about the Stolen Generations and the importance of saying ‘sorry’. This is a poignant and thought-provoking book that teaches kids about our past and shows them how to help create a positive future. Lisa Miranda Sarzin is a former lawyer and PhD student, and her first book for children is a sweet and moving tale.

My Australian Story: Who Am I? by Anita Heiss (ages 8+, $16.99)

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Five years ago, Mary was taken away from her family. She hasn’t seen her real mum and dad since then – she lives with the Burkes now, but no matter how many people tell her that her home is with them, she knows it isn’t true. This is a powerful slice of Australian history and an important book for young readers. Author Anita Heiss, from the Wiradjuri nation of NSW, is also a social commentator, activist, poet and academic – and don’t forget that you can find her fabulous books for adults next door at Avid Reader!

NAIDOC Week runs until 12 July, but we’ve always got a great selection of Indigenous titles in stock – so pay us a visit, give us a call or hop online!

What’s cooking at Wild Things?

Feeling peckish? We can help. Fiona has been taste-testing her way around Wild Things to discover some great books for young cooks who also love to read. Here’s her lip-smacking list of foodtastic novels for 9-12-year-olds:

The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis ($14.95)

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Amelie Day lives with her mum and loves to bake – cupcakes, muffins, tarts, and bread – so she’s super excited when she wins a place in Britain’s Best Teen Baker of the Year.

But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis, and some days she can barely breathe – so her mum forbids her from travelling to London to compete.

A very moving tale of a talented young baker determined not to let her illness define her.

(Includes Amelie’s very own recipes.)

Best Friends’ Bakery: Sugar & Spice by Linda Chapman ($12.99)

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The Sugar and Spice Bakery opens tomorrow!

Hannah’s life has changed so much so quickly! She’s just moved to a new town with a new dad and new twin sisters, and now her mum is about to fulfil her dream by opening a new bakery. Hannah is also a great baker and has plenty of ideas to help make the bakery a success. But will her mum find time to listen? And how is Hannah going to make new friends at a new school?

Includes sweet illustrations and lots of yummy recipes from Hannah.

The Songbird Cafe Girls: Mollie Cinnamon is NOT a Cupcake by Sarah Webb ($16.95)

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Mollie Cinnamon is stuck spending the holidays on ‘snoresville island’ with her great-granny, whom she’s never met before. Mollie’s TV-presenter mum is off travelling the world filming her new show. Life just doesn’t seem fair!

That’s until Mollie makes friends at the Songbird Cafe, where she learns to bake. But disaster strikes when the cafe is threatened with closure!

(Includes a recipe for the Songbird Cupcake.)

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman ($14.99)

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Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven. Now she’s 11, and after an accident with a crème brulee and a blowtorch, Gladys is banned from the kitchen of the East Dumpsford apartment she shares with her parents, who have no interest in food or cooking.

But Gladys finds a way to pay her parents back when she’s mistaken for a famous restaurant reviewer. Will Gladys find a way to keep her true identity secret, sneak into New York City and keep her dream job?

Diarman’s book has won glowing reviews in the US, and her companion novel The Stars of Summer has just been published.

All four books are available in-store and online to satisfy young reading appetites. Tuck in!

Home for the holidays

School holidays are finally upon us, and is there ever a better time to get yourself into some book-shaped shenanigans? After extensive scientific* research, we’ve concluded that no, there probably isn’t. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five fabulous must-have holiday reads, all on the shelf in store RIGHT NOW, to get you through those long and lazy days of sweet, sweet freedom:

Star Wars Crochet Kit (all ages) – create your very own woolly versions of Luke, Leia, Yoda, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and more. May the craft force be with you!

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What’s the Opposite by Oliver Jeffers (ages 4+) – join the Hueys on a fun and quirky exploration of opposites. Warning: adults might enjoy this just as much as kids …

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The Milkshake Detectives by Heather Butler (ages 9+) – join intrepid detectives Charlie and Julia as they set out to uncover the secrets of their sleepy hometown.

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The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (ages 14+) – a dark and compelling fantasy tale about 17-year-old Twylla, who instantly kills anyone she touches.

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Alice’s Food A-Z by Alice Zaslavsky (all ages) – turn yourself into a fantastic foodie with Alice’s funny food facts, cooking tips and recipes. Holidays never tasted so good!

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And if you still want more, here are this week’s top 10 bestsellers:

  1. Ten Little Dinosaurs by Mike Brownlow
  2. Catch That Cat (Bilingual Edition) by Melina Mellos
  3. Ruby Red Shoes Goes To Paris by Kate Knapp
  4. Ivy And Bean 1 by Annie Barrows
  5. Paper Towns by John Green
  6. The 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton
  7. The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak
  8. In My Heart by Jo Witek
  9. Snail And Turtle Are Friends by Stephen King
  10. My Two Blankets by Kobald & Blackwood

* We’re using this term very, very loosely.